A novel treatment method in reducing lymphoedema - The New Indian Express

A novel treatment method in reducing lymphoedema

Published: 03rd September 2013 09:35 AM

Last Updated: 03rd September 2013 09:56 AM

While the meeting of allopathy with alternative medicines is often dismissed as ‘mixology’ by skeptics, an integrated treatment protocol combining allopathy, ayurveda and yoga, has been found effective in reducing lymphoedema (chronic swelling of arms and legs) in patients with lymphatic filariasis.

The results of the trials, conducted by the Institute of Applied Dermatology (IAD), Kasargod, in collaboration with a number of other institutes have been published in the recent issue of the international journal, ‘Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.’

“The WHO has termed Lymphatic filariasis as a neglected disease of the poor. No pharmaceutical company is interested in developing a cure for this disease and there is no known global or nationwide public health programme to manage lymphoedema as a result of lymphatic filariasis.

Allopathy advocates nodo-venous shunt and debulking surgeries, but it requires long-term hospitalisation, are expensive and not very effective,” said IAD director Dr S R Narahari, who is a dermatologist, trained in modern medicine.

The IAD-developed integrated treatment protocol, by combining ayurveda, yoga and allopathic drugs to control bacterial infection, was put to trial in two districts of south india  - Malkhed Community Health Centre premises at Gulbarga in Karnataka and Cherthala at Alappuzha in Kerala. Patients with grade two late or three lymphoedema were enrolled.

“The patients were called for a counselling sessions first and given the details of the procedure, part of which had to be self-administered.

The limbs were checked for fragile spots and injuries, which serve as entry points for bacteria, and antibiotics were given when it was needed,” explained Dr Narahari.

The limbs would then be given a wash with a herbal decoction (phanta), a massage without oil and then with oil. The oil used was the ‘naalpaamaradhi’ oil. The patients were given training in yoga and also in using long-stretch compression bandages.

A total of 730 patients completed the three-and-a-half month follow up. Among the 730 patients, some were affected in more than one limb and the total number of treated limbs were 851. There was a statistically significant reduction up to mid thigh level volume measurement for both small and large limbs and also the frequency of inflammatory episodes.

“Inflammatory episodes are when patients develop high fever and chills and in some cases, even mortality has been reported. The frequency of such occurrences came down in the trials. In Alappuzha, inflammatory episodes  during a three-month period came down from 37.5 per cent (127 patients) to 28.3 per cent (96 patients),” Dr Narahari said. In Gulbarga, the reduction was much more, from 37.6 per cent (147 patients) to 10.2 per cent (40 patients).

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